Try this: turn on your TV and start watching a movie. Now, while watching the movie, pick up a book and start reading.
We’re not done yet. While simultaneously watching a movie and reading a book, call a friend on the phone and start a conversation.
Not easy, is it?
Not only is it not easy it is, in fact, not humanly possible. Like a computer, we can move back and forth between these three tasks, but we are completely incapable of focusing on all three at the same time.
In the moment the gruesome murder scene in the movie has our attention riveted, we lose track of the conversation between the characters in the book and completely miss everything our friend just told us about her interaction with a co-worker.
What is happening is this: when we are focusing on the movie, that is all we are focusing on. We may well be aware of the book in our hands and the phone pressed against our ear, but in that moment the movie, and only the movie, has captured our attention.
The notion of multitasking is one of the many myths we have been sold in recent years. We are most certainly capable of performing more than one task at the same time, e.g. we can mindlessly spread butter on toast while talking to our spouse or watch TV while running on a treadmill, but we have no capacity for multi-tasking when doing so requires us to focus on more than one thing at the same time.
It is often said our lives exist only in the moment. That NOW, this moment is all we have and while we may be dwelling in the past or fantasizing about the future, it is only in the present second, NOW, that our whole life is taking place.
And this is exceptionally good news.
Each of us has been granted the gift of choice and included in that gift is our ability to choose what we are focusing on in every moment.
And what we focus on has immediate effect on our emotional state and consequently on how we conduct ourselves.
If we accept as gospel that we can only focus on one thing at a time and we further accept that what we are focusing on directly impacts our emotional state, then it is not a giant leap, but rather a tiny step to excitedly grasp with both hands the fact that the quality of our lives – the amount of happiness we allow in – is determined by what we are focusing on the not by what is going on.
If our lives only exist in the moment – NOW – and if we can focus only on one thing and if our emotional state is determined solely by what we are focusing on, and if we can choose what we are focusing on then the only NOW we have is the NOW we choose.
And being able to choose the NOW we want is a gift too powerful to ignore and too compelling to refute.
It is a gift freely granted to us all.
Use it wisely.
Till we read again.